Quick Hits: Sabres vs. Kings

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The Sabres finally found some luck against the Western Conference Saturday night against the Kings.

Buffalo is 4-7-2 against the West this season, which is good for worst in the Eastern Conference. After losing three straight on the road, Buffalo came out firing at home.

From the get go, the Sabres played like a different team. Throughout the first period they generated many chances and at times dominated.

The shots on goal for the first period were 12-3 in favor of the Sabres.

Despite playing great, the Sabres went into the first intermission tied at 1 a piece. The Kings opened the scoring when Gaborik buried a great pass from Kopitar on a 2 on 1. The pass was made possible because Mike Weber didn’t take away the pass, or the shot for that matter. Ullmark actually almost makes an incredible save, but his glove just misses.

Less than 3 minutes later, Jamie McGinn scored what looks like great goal to tie it up on the power play. At first glance it appears that McGinn takes the puck, and backhands it between his legs into the corner of the net. Perfectly placed shot, great idea for a shot, but it’s a tough one. As a hockey player myself I know, and many know, that a shot like that is extremely difficult when trying to get speed on the shot. McGinn gets a lot of speed on it.

Now watch the gif more closely. It’s hard to tell, but what might have actually happened is Brayden McNabb knocked the puck into his own net, as he swings his stick around and hits the puck. Both sticks seem to be moving in the same direction, so let’s just assume McGinn just made an incredible play for now.

The second period was a little more even. Both teams generated chances, but neither had a lot.

This was the only period where the Kings out possessed the Sabres, but yet they were still outshot 9-7.

There were some big moments in the period. Linus Ullmark made a tremendous save on Marian Gaborik. Once again he had an opportunity on a 2 on 1. This time Jake McCabe failed to stop the pass across ice, but Ullmark anticipated it and shot his blocker over.

Towards the end of the period, Jack Eichel made a gorgeous saucer pass to Jake McCabe who scored top corner. However, Darryl Sutter challenged for offsides and the goal was overturn. That puts the count at 4 for times the Sabres have had a goal taken away this season.

In the third period the Sabres played better in the first half of the period, while the Kings played better in the second half. The shots for the period were tied at 8.

Both goalies stood tall, made some nice saves, and got their teams to overtime.

Overtime, as it usually is, was eventful.

The Kings had a chance to win the game on a breakaway by Anze Kopitar, but he was foiled by Ullmark.

The Sabres than had a stretch of 30 seconds with chance after chance. They had at least 3 odd man rushes, and finally Ryan O’Reilly scored while he was falling from the slot. A tremendous goal from a tremendous player.

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Jack Eichel was phenomenal

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For almost the entire game, Jack Eichel was incredible. He was setting up his wingers for great chances, creating chances for himself, and just making defenders look silly at times. He should have had another assist on the Jake McCabe goal that was called back.

The Kings hate playing in Buffalo

In their last 11 trips to Buffalo the Kings have just 1 win. That dates back the days of Ziggy Palffy and others. One of their 10 losses included a 10-1 rout by the Sabres in 2005-06, when both Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville scored hat tricks.

Former Sabres don’t get revenge

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Former Sabre goalie Jhonas Enroth got the start against his former team, but despite playing well was unable to get the W. Enroth had a bit of a bad breakup with the Sabres. He was traded before last years trade deadline, and afterwards talked about having to play in an environment that was trying to lose. It was maybe the only quote of a former Sabre acknowledging that they were trying to tank for a top draft pick. Other former Sabres on the Kings include Christian Ehrhoff, Brayden McNabb, and Jamie McBain. Jared Nolan, the son of Ted, also failed to get revenge on the team that fired his father.

Auston Matthews?

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No one wants to have the tank debate again. Last year at this time the Sabres were 5 points out of last place and 7 points out of the playoffs. Today they are 2 points out of last, and 7 out of the playoffs. If the Sabres want to be legit contenders for a playoffs spot, they need to put a stretch of 4 or 5 wins together soon. If things keep going the way they have been, the fans could start the tank debate again. At some point it will happen if the team doesn’t prevent it.
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Written by Joe DiBiase

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